Pulses are a versatile food that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
They can be a main dish, a side dish or a healthy ingredient in baked goods, snacks and even beverages.
They come in many shapes, sizes and colors, but the most common ones are lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas.
Beans or pulses, when dried, are nutrient-dense, low in fat, high in fiber and packed with protein.
For dried beans to be edible, the moisture lost in the process of drying them must be restored.
This is done simply by soaking them in water. But soaking beans before cooking them is just half the battle.
Water alone can effect the texture of the pulse, making them mushy and bland.
The following is a guideline on how to prepare your beans before cooking them, when to and not to add flavor and how long to cook them.
How To Prepare Dried Beans For Cooking
Clean and Rinse Beans
It’s a good idea to rinse and pick over the beans. Because there could be dirt and pebbles from the field and dust from the silo and who knows what else from the markets bulk bin.
Therefore, giving dried pulses a quick rinse with cold water and then a quick look for any bits of rock or other debris hidden in with the beans can prevent ingesting anything that could make you sick.
Soak Your Beans
Soaking pulses before hand can reduce cooking time, by up to 30 minutes.
For the creamiest, most flavorful beans, season your bean-soaking water with one tablespoon of Himalayan salt per quart of water.
Adding some salt to the water will not only help with flavor, but also can stop pulses from becoming waterlogged and mushy.
According to the authors of “Science of Cooking” – soaking pulses in water only, increases the size by 120%, making for mushy beans. But adding salt increases the beans size by only 80%.
As the salt penetrates the bean, it helps to destabilize the tough pectin like glue that holds the cells together. This destabilizing process helps to cook them quicker and more evenly.
Brining isn’t just for meat says Cook’s Illustrated. When you soak dried beans in salted water, they cook up with softer skins.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, when unsalted beans cook, their interiors can end up swelling faster than their skins can keep up with, resulting in skins that rupture instead of enlarging along with the rest of the bean.
Salted beans on the other hand, will grow proportionally, resulting in tender, creamy, intact beans that are well seasoned throughout.
For most varieties, you need to soak them for 8 hours and then cook them for 30-60 minutes.
After you soak them, rinse the beans with fresh water before cooking, then add a pinch of salt to the cooking water as well.
When To Add Flavor
Dried herbs and spices may be added at the start. But it is recommended when adding fresh herbs do so towards the end of cooking to reduce flavor loss.
Add acidic foods, like citrus juice, vinegar, tomatoes, and wine, among others, after beans are cooked. As these foods can prevent beans from becoming tender.
How Long To Cook Beans
This chart shows the length of time to cook a pulse and if you should soak it or not.
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